A man accused of killing a Thermal man with a bat brutally and intentionally beat him beyond recognition, a prosecutor argued Tuesday, but his attorney claimed that he suffered from a mental condition that altered his perception of events, and thus should only be guilty of intentional manslaughter.
Saul Mayoral, 53, is accused in the March 23, 2018, death of a man identified by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office as Hector Quinones.
Quinones’ body was found in a drainage channel near Mayoral’s mobile home, authorities said.
Mayoral is charged with one felony count of murder along with sentence-enhancing allegations of using a weapon during the felony.
He has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges, meaning if he is convicted, a second phase of trial would be held to determine if the defendant was sane at the time of the crime.
“He was seeing things that made him believe this was self defense, he was mistaken, but he thought it was self defense,” Mayoral’s attorney, Alex Hallowell, said in his closing arguments Tuesday at the Banning Justice Center.
According to Mayoral, he was acting in self-defense when the victim allegedly came after him with a pipe.
Hallowell asserted that evidence provided in the case does show an altercation occurred between the defendant and the victim, but that little is known about what actually happened during the altercation.
Hallowell claimed that Mayoral’s psychosis altered his reality of events, and because of that, his client could have truly believed he was defending himself from Quinones.
Hallowell told jurors that Mayoral should be held responsible for what happened, but that because of his mental condition and the lack of evidence to show what happened during the altercation, intent to kill was not present and thus he should be charged with voluntary manslaughter rather than murder.
Deputy District Attorney Robert Hightower told jurors that what occurred was a “clear, brutal, targeted attack.” Hightower dismissed the claim of self-defense by stating that Mayoral went out of his way to receive the bat beforehand and struck the victim multiple times in the head while the victim was on the ground.
Hightower also pointed to instances such as the defendant getting rid of his phone after the killing and the defendant telling officers that they know what he did to show that Mayoral was aware of his actions and of the gravity of them.
It was only after attempting to hide what he did that Mayoral began to look for “any excuse to avoid responsibility” such as claiming self-defense and insanity, according to Hightower.
A local resident discovered the victim’s body at 7:17 a.m. on March 23, 2018, in the 87800 block of Avenue 52 and flagged down deputies, according to Sgt. Wallace Clear of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Mayoral approached authorities later that day with what appeared to be blood on him, indicating that he knew they would want to talk to him, according to a prosecution trial brief.
When questioned by authorities, Mayoral admitted to striking Quinones with the bat, but claimed it was in self-defense, saying the victim came at him with a pipe, according to the trial brief.
Prosecutors said Mayoral admitted what he did was “a mistake.” A bat and a pipe were found at the scene.
At the time of his arrest, Mayoral was on probation for battery committed against a custodial officer, according to court records.
He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.